On the first official day of summer action at Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekly racing series, Thursday Thunder, officially shifted into high gear. With plenty of ultra-fast racing and very few cautions, drivers tested their skill against one of the toughest quarter-mile tracks in the nation.
Starting on the pole for the Backyard Burgers Roadster feature, Johnny Rucker (McDonough) jumped out to nearly a two-second lead just one lap into the event. On lap two, Jim Gresham (Stockbridge) and Paige Monette (Alpharetta) tangled, relegating Gresham to a last-place finish. Despite constantly chopping into Rucker's lead, McDonough, Ga.'s Dwight Pilgram couldn't make the pass as Rucker claimed the victory in the Roadster feature.
Judson Kittle (Watkinsville) brought the combined Young Guns and Outlaw field to the green flag, but relinquished his lead just after taking crossing the start line to a hard charging Ronnie Bassett (Winston Salem, N.C.). Bassett claimed the lead with a daring move into Turn One. The lone caution of the event came on lap nine when Dallan Wortham (Woodstock) and Will Prance (Canton) collided, sending both cars spinning in the middle of turn one. Blake Eden (DeLand, Fla.) made the pass on Bassett after the restart and never looked back, claiming the victory among the Greencastle Dental Young Guns. Diggie Bush (Seale, Ala.) emerged victorious in the Morley Outlaws feature.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," eventual victor Brian Weimer said after climbing from his car on the frontstretch. After starting on the point in the Tanger Outlet Centers Masters race, Robert Spence led for 19-laps and three turns when Albany's Skip Nichols tapped his bumper, causing him to slide to the outside, bringing Nichols with him and leaving the door open for Weimer to race by on the inside to the finish line.
Total destruction is the only way to describe the second annual ‘Run what Ya' Brung' spectator race. With eight vehicles taking the green flag for the start, participants knew only one driver would capture the checkered flag and they raced like it. In the end it was James Gagon and Andy Greeson in a Dixie Speedway Cruiser car earning the win.
Sparks flew in the Adrenalin Powersports Pro feature before the green flag was even unfurled with Casey Roderick of Lawrenceville and Williamson's Jeremy Kalina colliding. The top-seven cars ran like a high-speed freight train for the first three laps before Billy Fulson (Brooks) snared the lead entering turn one. The race was on from there with Roderick picking off positions lap-after-lap. Winston, Ga.'s Taylor Hull hounded Fulson for the remainder of the race but neither Hull nor third-place Roderick could get around Fulson as he maintained his lead and earned the victory.
The fastest car doesn't always win and that was apparent in the Fuddruckers Semi-Pro feature race as the quickest car for 19-laps, Austin Hill (Winston, Ga.) lost control entering Turn One after a green-white-checkered restart, dropping him to a last-place finish. Andrew Wroten (Kennesaw) led the field to the green flag, but eventual winner Justin Swilling (Cohutta) jumped into the lead before the entrance of Turn One on the first lap. The lone caution came on lap 18 when Wroten and Zac Kittle (Watkinsville) went sliding through Turn Two, setting up the race ending dash.
The most eventful feature of the night, the Zaxby's Bandits Division, included a five-car-pileup before the start of the race. With Chase Elliott (Blairsville, Ga.) leading the 18-car field to the green flag, the Zaxby's Bandits, which includes drivers as young as 8-years-old, went caution free for 17-laps when a chain reaction crash in Turn Two brought out the caution. Dillon Bassett (Winston Salem, N.C.) successfully attempted a fantastic cross-over move on race leader Evan Bell, (Buford) but Bell was able to retaliate, re-claiming the top spot. Just one lap later, a melee in Turn Two forced a green-white-checkered finish. Bassett was able to work his way around Bell once again and maintained the spot until the checkered flag was thrown, snagging the victory.
The racers in the Curry Collision Center Chargers Division were the final drivers of the evening to take the green flag. With Kyle Pierce (Statesville, N.C.) on the point, the field took the green flag didn't look back until a challenge came on lap-13. Cameron Michael (Buckhead), who would go on to score the victory, patiently worked his way around Pierce with precision skill and drove away from the field.
The cross-flags will be in the air next week as the 10-week Thursday Thunder season reaches the halfway point with ‘Swimsuit and Sandals Night' presented by WBUL 94.9 FM, The Bull.
For more information about Thursday Thunder or to take a Legends car on a test drive, call (770) 946-4211 or visit http://www.legendsofga.com/
Below is a list of feature race results by division.
BackYard Burgers Roadsters: 1. John Rucker (McDonough), 2. Dwight Pilgram (McDonough), 3. Brian Weimer (Cumming), 4. Paige Monette (Alpharetta), 5. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 6. Jim Gresham (Stockbridge)
Greencastle Dental Young Guns: 1. Blake Eden (Deland, FL), 2. Ronnie Bassett (Winston Salem, N.C.), 3. Jordan Coker (Powder Springs), 4. Scott Hensley (Olive Branch, Ms.) 5. Dustyn Cunningham (Madison), 6. Joseph Pilato (Cropwell, A.L.) 7. Rawlin West (Locust Grove) 8. Jacob Armstrong (Fayetteville), 9. Jordan Rogers (Thomaston) 10. Will Prance (Canton), 11. Shawn Wortham (Woodstock), 12. Bret Hardin, 13. Judson Kittle (Watkinsville), 14. Dallan Wortham (Woodstock), 15. Rasia Nadjkovic (Griffin)
Morley Company Outlaws: Diggie Bush (Seale, A.L.)
Tanger Outlet Centers Masters: 1. Brian Weimer (Cumming), 2. Robert Spence (Atlanta), 3. Skip Nichols (Albany), 4. Jeff Haynie (Zebulon), 5. Dwight Pilgram (McDonough), 6. Bill Henry (Kennesaw), 7. Ed Clark (Peachtree City), 8. Jimmy Wade (Griffin), 9. Virgil Brown (Concord), 10. Jim Daniels (Thomaston),
Adrenalin Powersports Pro: 1. Billy Fulson (Brooks), 2. Taylor Hull (Winston, G.A.), 3. Casey Roderick (Lawrenceville), 4. Ryan Gandee (McDonough), 5. Jeremy Kalina (Williamson), 6. Max Gresham (Milner), 7. Andrew Smith (Pooler), 8. Ted Studley (Niceville, F.L.)
Fuddruckers Semi-Pro: 1. Justin Swilling (Cohutta), 2. Jeremy Mullinax (Jasper), 3. Matt Stover (Gastonia, N.C.) 4. Kyle Lowry (Covington), 5. Matt Norton (Conyers), 6. Trey Ridley (Ball Ground), 7. Tina Johnson (Senoia), 8. Daniel Moore (Griffin), 9. Trey Poole (Pine Mountain), 10. Chase Moody (Griffin), 11. Dylan Ames ( Harvest, A.L.), 12. Brad Shelnutt (Locust Grove), 13. L.J. Klemons (Griffin), 14. Zach Zimmerly (Portland, O.R.), 15. Jonathon Chandler (Fayetteville), 16. Tyler Ridley (Ball Ground), 17. Chris Siebert (Hampton), 18. Eric Cushman (Stockbridge), 19. Brandon Summers (Clarksville, T.N.), 20. Dustin Davis (Swainsboro), 21. Austin Hill (Winston), 22. Andrew Wroten (Kennesaw), 23. Zach Kittle (Watkinsville)
Zaxby's Bandits: 1. Dillon Bassett (Winston Salem), 2. Mason Massey (Winston), 3. Evan Bell (Buford), 4. Kyle Plott (Marietta), 5. Kyle Benjamin (Simpsonville, S.C.), 6. Chase Elliott (Blairsville), 7. Davey Matthews (Douglasville), 8. Charlie Gresham (Milner), 9. J.D. Farlow (Palmetto) 10. Matt Dooley (Brooks), 11. Chandler LeVan (Statesville, N.C.), 12. Brady Boswell (Athens), 13. Justin Thomas (Woodstock), 14. Tanner Adkinson (Tallahassee, F.L.), 15. Grant Crane (Zebulon), 16. Jacob Wallace (Griffin), 17. Alex Coffey (McDonough), 18. Evan Swilling (Cohutta)
Curry's Collision Center Chargers: 1. Cameron Michael (Buckhead), 2. Currie Pierce (Griffin), 3. Tyler Armstrong (Fayetteville), 4. Kyle Pierce (Statesville, N.C.), 5. Jai Otwell (Bremen), 6. Judson Kittle (Watkinsville), 7. Melissa Wade (Griffin), 8. Leslie Cash (Brooks), 9. Carl Chapman (Barnette), 10. Rick Geddes (Newnan), 11. Chris Bowie (Douglasville), 12. Fred Miles (Alpharetta)